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BAE Systems to Modernise F-35 EW Capabilities

Significant Upgrades to AN/ASQ-239

BAE Systems has received a $493 million (€438 million) contract modification from Lockheed Martin to cover significant upgrading and modernisation of the F-35’s EW system, enabling rapid detection of evolving electromagnetic threats in contested battlespaces, the company announced on 15 December.

Under the contract, BAE Systems will deliver enhanced core hardware for the F-35’s AN/ASQ-239 EW mission system and will provide engineering support services and test infrastructure. The upgraded system will improve situational awareness and electromagnetic attack and countermeasure capabilities, with new sensors and more powerful signal processing.

The capabilities we will deliver in this contract are foundational and will be leveraged to other platforms to ensure all warfighters have the most advanced EW capability at the ready,” commented Lisa Aucoin, BAE Systems’ VP of F-35 Solutions. “The highly adaptable mission system will allow our warfighters to outpace evolving threats and defend democracy around the globe.”

The system’s robust design will enable rapid future upgrades, aligning with US DoD’s strategy for continuous capability development. Its modular architecture will also allow for efficient hardware upgrades, reducing lifecycle and retrofit costs, and supporting faster software updates. It also includes the Non-Intrusive Electronic Warfare Test Solution (NIEWTS) fault isolation and diagnostics capability, which enables precise troubleshooting that further reduces maintenance costs.

BAE Systems’ extensive involvement in the F-35 programme, in addition to the EW system, includes  manufacture of the aft fuselage, active inceptor control system, and vehicle management computer for each aircraft, at facilities in Australia, the UK and the USA. The company also provides sustainability, technical support, and training services to keep F-35s mission-ready.

The upgraded ASQ-239 will enable the F-35 fleet to maintain defences against evolving electromagnetic threats. (Image: BAE Systems)

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